Skip to main content

About this Show

Book TV

Akhil Reed Amar Education. (2012) 'America's Unwritten Constitution The Precedents and Principles We Live By.'

NETWORK

DURATION
01:30:00

RATING

SCANNED IN
San Francisco, CA, USA

SOURCE
Comcast Cable

TUNER
Channel 91 (627 MHz)

VIDEO CODEC
mpeg2video

AUDIO CODEC
ac3

PIXEL WIDTH
704

PIXEL HEIGHT
480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Us 24, Washington 6, U.s. 6, America 6, United States 4, Frederick Douglass 4, George Mason 4, Georgia 4, Savannah 4, Cronkite 4, Mr. Lincoln 3, Tennant 2, Mason 2, Philadelphia 2, New York 2, Vietnam 2, London 2, Walter Cronkite 2, Ross Coleman 2, Vernon 2,
Borrow a DVD
of this show
  CSPAN    Book TV    Akhil Reed Amar  Education.  (2012) 'America's Unwritten  
   Constitution The Precedents and Principles We Live By.'  

    September 29, 2012
    10:15 - 11:45am EDT  

10:15am
lincoln not been assassinated. a far more able constitution pier -- politician. lincoln like madison is an endless war short test with regard to certain issues of basic public policy. what does it all mean with regard to reconstruction. can mean, frankly, whatever you want it to me, including acquiescing in have far less radical reconstruction the record. of course, we will never know. again, let me thank all of you for coming. >> is there a nonfiction authors were booked you would like to see featured on. shorty? send us an e-mail.
10:16am
>> we underestimate how much we forget of our own ideas and the things to read. ridges terrible. even those of us have good memories will predict particularly if an idea is this kind of fragmentary-like thing. so one of the things that i found a lot people do, and i try to as well, not just write everything down, but keep everything together. don't overorganize your notes, don't put them off in folders. you want to allow interesting collisions to happen between your diaz. the important thing is to go back and read all those notes. go back and lick your notes from six years ago. revisit that kind of pass itself and all the ideas he or she had. that is what the commonplace book was like for most of the great minds of the enlightenment it was to together these
10:17am
passages from books that there read that there were inspired by it would write their own notes and then they'll go back and read this book which was itself a kind of remix kind of sample of all these other ideas. their intellectual presence, their intellectual self was formed by this constant reading and rematching of other people's ideas. >> our guest next sunday taking your calls, the mills, and tweets. a science writer and columnist for discover magazine will look at the cyberworld, popular culture, and computer networking and politics liven in eastern. >> his thoughts on the interpretation of the u.s. constitution and what the author teams are many obtuse passages. the constitution cannot be understood by its original text alone, but through historical
10:18am
precedent. discusses his book with supreme court justice clarence thomas at the national archives here in washington. this is about power and 20 minutes. >> could evening. it's a pleasure to welcome you to the national archive. a special welcome to our friends at c-span and the other media outlets to are with us tonight. special guest in the audience today that i want to single out for special welcome, senator mike lee who is a good friend of the national archives. the future supreme court justice , he was at the u.s. court of appeals for the third circuit. welcome. on monday the constitution of the u.s. states turned 225.
10:19am
tonight's program is one of several that the national archives is presenting this month in celebration of the founding document signed in philadelphia on september 17th 1787. tonight we're honored to welcome to distinguished guests to explore the past, present and future of the united states constitution. our partners for tonight's program in honor of the constitution are the federalist society and the constitutional accountable lee center. thanks for the opportunity to collaborate with you. the declaration of independence was long heralded as the icon of our independence for nation had, the constitution did not get as much attention. not as stirring as the declaration, and it's for parchment pages to the declarations single sheet deter most casual readers. the lack of celebration or to its image. over the years it was exposed to
10:20am
sunlight and smoke but the constitution was never exhibited . when you view both the original documents upstairs in the rotunda you immediately see the difference. the declaration stated to the point of eligibility while the constitution which nearly as fresh as it did when describe presented it to the continental convention -- constitutional convention. celebrating constitution day on september 17th has been a longstanding tradition here of the national archive. it was the one day of the year when all four pages of the document were displayed to the public. since 2003 we have been able to display all four pages year round in the new cases in the rotunda, but this year we have added something special to the 225th anniversary. for the first time in the history of the national archives we will display the resolution of transmittal to the continental congress, sometimes referred to as the fifth page of
10:21am
the constitution. this momentous document describes how the constitution would be ratified and put io action. you appeal to see it starting on friday, september 14th and it will remain out through monday, constitution day, september 17th. on the morning of constitution day, the highlight event of art celebration takes place. and naturalization ceremony for to london 25 new citizens of the united states. the national archives has hosted a ceremony for decades. it never ceases to impress the prospective citizens out to support and defend the constitution in front of the actual document. we encourage you to return over the next several days for more discussions, films, and special events for the constitution to protect. on monday september 17th at noon we do happy birthday here in the theater. a special program in celebration
10:22am
of the signing of the constitution in the first 225 test will join the founding fathers for cake after the performance. now, wednesday september 19th at 7:00 p.m. the constitution and the war of 1812 here in the theater. the 2012 lecture. journalist roger mudd moderates a panel discussion on what are probably helped misses from 1812. tonight two distinguished guests discussed the past, present and future of the nest its constitution. professor of law and political science at university. he teaches constitutional law at the college and law school. he received his b.a. and j.d. from yale and serves as an editor of the yale law journal. clerking for steven briar, he
10:23am
joined the faculty of yale in 1985. professor is co-editor of the leading constitutional law casebook, processes of the constitutional decision making and is the author of several of the books including the constitution in criminal procedure, the bill of rights creation and reconstruction, america's constitution and was really america's and written constitution, the precedents and principles will apply. the hon. clarence thomas has served as a justice of the supreme court for nearly 21 years. he attended seminary and received an ab from the college of the holy cross and j.d. from yale law school. serve as an assistant attorney general of missouri from 1974 to 1977. legislative assistant to senator john denver from 1979 to 81.
10:24am
from 81-82 he served as assistant secretary for civil rights in the u.s. department of education and is chairman of the u.s. equal opportunity commission from 1982 to 1990. he became a judge of the u.s. court of appeals in district of columbia circuit and 1990 and president bush nominated him as associate justice of the supreme court and he took his seat on october 203rd 1991. please welcome justice thomas and professor mark to the stage. [applause] >> thank you, ladies and tennant love for that extra nearly
10:25am
gracious, warm welcome. thank you for the national archives and the staff for making this event possible. thanks also, special thanks to the federalist society and the constitutional accountability center and thank you, justice thomas and off for being with us today as we mark the 225th birthday of our constitution. i guess i would like to start that conversation with the words the constitution starts with. we, the people. what that phrase means to you, how that freeze has changed over time thanks to the amendments and other developments. who is this we? when did folks like you when i become part of this? >> well, obviously not perfect.
10:26am
that's an understatement. but you grow up in an environment, at least i was fortunate enough where we believed that it is perfectible. in a, it's very -- i think pretty much it's a acceptable or maybe somewhat today to be so critical or almost invariably critical as a country and pointing out what's wrong. there are obviously things around. there are obviously things wrong i grew up in georgia. that was pointed out, but there was always this underlying belief that we were entitled to be a full participant in we the people. that's the way we grow. it was the way the nuns would
10:27am
explain it to us. we were entitled to be full participants. it was never any doubt that we were inherently equal. it said so in the declaration of independence. of course there were times that i to became quite cynical. the remarks and deciding the not so pleasant remarks in reciting the pledge of allegiance or say things that i think would -- whether or not cell phones. people couldn't youtube you and it's around forever. i was just of said. i grew up in an environment with people around me who believed that this country could be better. the framework for it was there.
10:28am
we the people. we used to memorize the preamble to the constitution. so fascinating to think of these black kids in this area schools in savannah resetting the preamble to the constitution of the united states, standing out in the schoolyard saying the pledge of allegiance every day before school. everything is obviously in front of you. we can't get to apply very. you can't live in certain neighborhoods. you can't cut certain schools. despite all of that you lived in an environment of people who said it was still our birthright to be imprudent and continue to push not only to change the laws but to maintain that belief in our hearts. today we sort of thing that all of the work is done with the laws. the heavy lifting for us was done in here.
10:29am
the people who reassess believed the nuns who taught us. you know, today and was just down at louisiana state university. if you get to the southeast conference there's this tremendous enthusiasm about the pull. i'm a diehard nebraska fan myself. tatarstan and enthusiasm. can you imagine, that does is and we have for country that did not allow us to of fully participate. one of the birthrights, i still believe that it's perfectible. i think i resist the kind of attitude that it's our loss. if the same attitude and then.
10:30am
it's ours. it's ours to make the best of, to disagree about, work with, realize its imperfections but keep working with. when i think we the people is a lot. and think of the solution, the possibility, and the eventuality of the inclusion. no one cares that 40 years ago the one that would not be sitting here talking about the constitution. excluded. now it's hardly noticed. in professor of. >> in den kiffin yourself. the vaccine and the, that's nice of you to say. you know, i really the pack.
10:31am
and to say, it's the same people . a trend set of the years. people business. i still say it's all the people he never gave up an aneurysm to first in a line of the people like my grandparents. people have never ever quit. he got up every day and believe that even if they did make it the stick in half and led. in some losses if they so sacrificed. the missile sacrificing offering could these two boys, and generations to come afterwards.
10:32am
vic and i think you when that of have people who gave the last full measure for us in many, many ways. so i can really take too many battles. >> there's so much there. over the course of our conversation i hope you mentioned the declaration of independence and the fullness of time. you alluded to mr. lincoln as the last full measure. the gettysburg address. you mentioned who was in and who wasn't. we and how that has changed over time. a just want to say a little bit because i agree with you that is easy to be cynical. there were explosions, and we can't forget that. we didn't mean everyone. but just to pick up on that. then we will set way to resolve the other things that you talk about, looking to fund just so the rest of us, and we can all begin to appreciate how lax for
10:33am
married this birthday is that we celebrate. 225 years ago, august 1787 self-government is this almost nowhere in the planet outside of if. you have a few sheep and goat errors in some. holland is in the process of losing self-government. england has house of commons but also as a house of lords and a hereditary king. so you look back. the vast multitude of the planet , the self-government.
10:34am
the previous moments in -- millennium very few will city-state's. the flicker out. even with democracy, they speak the same language, worship the same guns. same climate and culture. very small areas. all of world history, very democracy. democracy, half the planet. i like our chances. ask me, what changed, the hands above that to london 25 years ago, the hands of world history. at the time it was way better, more perfect. for the first time ever in the history of the planet an entire continent got to go and have they in their posterity would be
10:35am
covered, and there were lots of exclusions, but we would not exist, you know, has a democratic country in the democratic world but for that. fifth faugh people it's the hands of all modern history. the project is begun, launched a one not perfect. better than what we had before, but not at all as good as what we have now. i think a lot to talk a little bit about the process of getting better, but i'm not a cynic. i think that we, the people, to ordain and establish a pretty stunning what we actually did. the pick of and move forward in time. is not just that we voted. it was a pretty fair vote and was about that could be lost. and the fact that it was voted down in rhode island, voted down and out carolina.
10:36am
anonymous speech. just a proliferation, robust wide-open and have it. up and down for four years. thus the remark today. some thoughts on free-speech at that moment. the worker with four in time. >> had done a lot of company. mcintyre an anonymous speech. you think about it. 20,000 years ago you had the articles of confederation, you
10:37am
have a congress that didn't work was not functioning. ross coleman that was inadvertent. very interesting convention that arguably was not quite what they were authorized to do. you had the resolution that's going to be on exhibit. it's kind of interesting and where it. certainly throws the were unanimous in and use it in an interesting one. but you know. i mean, you think of that going to washington and trying to get him to a scene mount vernon. he doesn't want to leave because he's been away for years. he doesn't want chilly against a
10:38am
filibuster, and they do it. they come up with this document. and then you have going to the congress and this going to be sent to the people. >> to the people. >> to ratify. >> amazing. >> i think, you know when i read about it, i have to admit, i'm totally a sucker. i get chills. that's the beginning of the development of the place that allows you and me to be here with all its -- is the way i feel in my hometown. it has a lot of problems. this the way feel about the constitution. has a lot of problems. it's ours. we get a chance this wonderful opportunity that we have to make
10:39am
it all work, to try and understand, to try to make the country work with four pot with. celebrating the birthday. would you have a constitution would you have the amendment to the constitution if mason was more cynical than adamant? would you have the declaration of independence if jefferson was a senate rather than someone who actually believe? would you have a constitution if madison didn't care? and just all the negative stuff. i have come to a point, and i tell my law clerks this, that i have been in the city doing these jobs now for half of my natural life. the only reasons to do are the
10:40am
ideas. these are things you believe in this constitution in this country. i know that's not what you say in washington d.c. anymore. your supposed to say, there's some ankle. there some methodology. there's a bridge loans cannot all these useless debates of the densest during a jobs, your book. they sang you also have over here, all these things are happening over here to make it all work. ross coleman. >> two thoughts on that. you mentioned about the declaration in the bill of rights. to set the stage about the constitution.
10:41am
the really worthy of our celebration, acknowledging the who was part of it. none of the ancient democracies that ever existed in the world, even if they had democratic constitutions, ever have a democratic constitution making process. none of them were put to vote by the people themselves and athens are florence or pre imperial rome. 1776, as grave as the declaration of independence was cannot but to a vote, not a lot of free speech. you're for us or against this. you can have a philosophical debate. the constitution is put to a vote in which eight of the 13 states, the property qualifications are lowered or eliminated compared to what they were before. in a year-long conversation in which people say, you know, there are some problems here. in effect faugh of we actually say, where the rights?
10:42am
we get this bill of rights because of that conversation. even before there is a text of freedom of speech there is the practice of freedom of speech. five times the bill of rights uses the same phrase. and i think it's coming from the people. so this process of correction the you're talking about, more perfectible, disconnected to the democratic idea. when you get people together and there are -- and have to make sure the hon cynical. you have to beat the into federal's, but you have to get them on board, to keep them believing. keep in part of the game. maybe you win next time. keep that conversation going so that you can actually perfected, make it -- at least make it better than it was the day before with the bill of rights. >> you know, i don't know whether they are anti federalists.
10:43am
maybe it didn't quite believe that the national government should be given unfettered authority. maybe it with the people who were saying we have to have a bill of rights. competition for the individual. i know what i would call them into a federalist. there were people who suddenly saw that they had these cut given rights are believed. we have the bill of rights commission and tennant. >> you are a fierce believer and independence of thought, to send , not even george washington and penn franklin but have had a complete monopoly on all this. so it was useful that you had a george mason critique. >> george mason, i think george mason seemed like a pretty
10:44am
stubborn guy. the other thing was that we know, i think that he made it clear. he did not undermine the process you go back and you look at the last days of the convention, george mason did not throw a malted -- monkey wrench into the works. made it absolutely clear. is not a politician. he has -- he was not into making a lot of friends and allies. you is calling to argue this point. he was calling to return the government. i happen to think that that was pretty effective. he wasn't against -- remember, he was very helpful in developing the constitution. a strong national government.
10:45am
the that he wanted to build and make it clear that that did not exist in contradiction or in a position of these individual rights. again, he was a cynical. he wasn't an obstruction, but he was, i think, adamant that these protections exist. >> here's one way of putting that. they are cast a politically into the void. people who oppose the constitution, it could be better still. on to a federalist. they become cast out. did become presidents of the united states sent neil chase.
10:46am
so it's extraordinary. the process. >> think about it. it continues to play out. it's the same debate i hear people today make it seem as though the when you talk about limits on the national government that is antithetical to the constitution and the existence of the national demint. it's embedded in the original argument. the argument was always about limits. it was about -- in a, you hear this comments. these people are trying to push as back to the articles of confederation. that's ludicrous. that really is. the very man who pushed for these actually helped develop the constitution. so the debate when you move forward with you look at, it's almost argue about whether there should be in national.
10:47am
the argument the sanitation's that debate is embedded in the very formation of the country from the beginning, the time we adopted a constitution that debate existed. that debate has at the same time the understand there were some people still fighting engage in a debate. subsequent to that, even with the adoption of 13 and 14th and 15th amendment we still have it. we still talk about the limits of the national government, the role of the national government, how we protect individual rights and individual liberties.
10:48am
>> let's actually move forward in time and start talking about the events that preface the 13th and 14th, and 15 from the net. i want everyone out there to recognize that this month is not just -- it's a very special anniversary. it's not just the 225th anniversary. the year that changes everything, hands of human history is also 150th anniversary to the month of the first initial emancipation proclamation which is issued immediately after the battle of antietam which is fought september 17th 1862. seventy-five years to the day
10:49am
after the constitution has gone public. so we mark today not just the two and 20 -- this month, the sesquicentennial is a thing with a coma. the emancipation proclamation. document you will also find. a little bit more to say about that. as we talk about some of our forbearers, founding fathers, i guess some thoughts about our refunding, father abraham. bringing lincoln into the picture and your thoughts about this new birth of freedom that begins with the emancipation. do you have a family story? grandfather, you write this book , my grandfather sun and mention that his grandmother was a freed slave. some thoughts about that. >> you know, for us in the south a blank in was a great.
10:50am
i no there is revisionism today. i'm a big fan. i have photos of them. i -- in lincoln and quite a bit to us. you go. a read his house divided speech. you begin to see what the country as. it's like the beginning. once again you have the south. one way of life single greatest in the country. the free cash to the slaves. we insisted that. when i grew up was the author of real liberty the emancipation
10:51am
proclamation, feel the order number 15. >> tell us what that is. >> if that was the actual order that freed the slaves in the eastern part of coastal georgia as well as florida and, of course, my family was on an island in plantations along the coast of georgia for over 100 years. again, just south of hilton head and bethesda in the carolinas. duff to the family would remain on that island even after the civil war. it was a storm, actually a hurricane in the 1890's the truth then over to some of the mainland areas. but the fascinating thing, the people who came from that not
10:52am
only maintain their culture, but there was always this desire to be a part of the country. lincoln was a person, the promise of 40 acres and a mule. that promise when on for years. there was that promise, the promise of freedom, the promise of the 40 acres and a mule. so you would hear people talk about the lack of freedom in the same way that they talk about the unfulfilled promise of the 40 acres in the middle. but it was order number 15 that directly affected my forebears'. and so is a very special place in my heart. certainly i keep in my office a copy of children under 15 is mounted on my wall because of my interest in a and what it has done to those who came before me we are from a plantation or part
10:53am
of my family is from a plantation. that's where we talk just across from the plantation where his grandmother and his great-grandfather of land in the 1870's press after he was free. we all, my pen to offset or are going to be raised in the ways a slippery. that's the way we raise. very hard line. it is a live in a way of life of which i'm enormously proud there is not in a moment in my life and i had nothing but the greatest and the people who grew up under the most difficult circumstances and the dignity which on match in the of the great cities in this country. it's almost as though it is an inability of humanity simply because of the dignity with
10:54am
which the negatives that were put in their way and the harshness of life. as i say in my book, my grandmother still reigns as the greatest person i know of or about. you tell me a person who could have accepted and not have a five, is another. handed from post to post them or no education or no bidders -- bitterness. rose above it and insisted that his grandson's rise above it. fight it, but dissipate, eliminate, but not be consumed by it were destroyed by. i don't think how you could get
10:55am
much greater than that. >> uni are fueling demand. to you think and all in the culture that lincoln still gets is to. and so many ways, there's some less talk about the founding fathers. house divided speech. to me give that -- that has to be the greatest generation. we today in our law and culture give enough credit said the refunding. >> you think of the great moments in our history. you could talk about the revolution, the constitution, we celebrate now, 225 years. it's all coming asunder.
10:56am
it's coming apart. and the country, as we know it today, is reshaped after the civil war. what does it look right if there is no 14th amendment. the bill of rights. so there is a whole -- there is some much that goes beyond the war. i tell my law clerks. we have to go the gettysburg. this isn't just about, you know, we pulled these little france out of what we do every day. we talk about textualism or regionalism. he argued. it's much. not. you know, and see people here who argue before the court. i not once thought that the people who came there did not understand that what we did was
10:57am
larger than who we are. we were engaged to preserve something something that is truly great. did we agree? no more than the farmers agree. no more than mesa and hamilton agreed. the agree that we should have a country, exactly what it should be. we disagree. not to the point that we destroy it, but some of the to the point that think that we are perfecting it. and her still here. he saw the slavery, we could not exist half slave and half free. you couldn't do it. it was not going to happen.
10:58am
he understood that. you have to have a union. he knew ultimately it could not be a slave country that allows slavery. now, i know you have your revisionism and people. i don't have time to pick all those. lincoln preserve the union. frederick douglass, have a portrait of an. he's been there of the more than two decades. i'm a big fan. a freed slave to stand as he stood to set the declaration of independence not something that is foreign to this nation back the founding document of this nation. he cited that as exhibit a in what was wrong with slavery. exhibit a. you didn't need to go to another
10:59am
-- in the other shores or any other ideology. it was our founding ideology. how could you be inherently equal and have sleeves? how could you be free and enslave another race. he understood that. so we fought a great war. you get to gettysburg. but to seize a? it's up to us. we were living. we had the opportunity, finite amount of time to make it work. i hear people, you know, you disagree with some. well, that person must be wrong. ..
11:00am
unlike civil war but rather as people who are engaged as lincoln's sort of let us. we need to be made be disagreeing. one of the things i do like. i have been there now through a number and in the years i have been there i honestly come always thinking everyone wants to make it work. every single member -- they
11:01am
don't agree with each other but somehow they agree this is more important than we are and we have to make this so yes. i am a frederick douglass person and the booker t. washington person. i grew up loving these people. one last point. i want you to think of the little black kid in savannah, georgia and you see pictures of the great emancipate your book treaty washington, frederick douglass, w. e. b. du bois, george washington. you grow up, this is part of your life. this is the underpinning and what do you think you bring to the court.
11:02am
you bring this sense that it is not some ambition. this is obligation to fulfills something they started. is calling you have to do what you are supposed to do. it is hard sometimes. is a disagreeable? sometimes. his if the right thing? i bet you if i get that -- we could ask how hard the civil war comes and how hard the president was and whether or not he would say to you -- i am willing to bet if you were to ask whether it was worth leaving family to fight at valley forge in the revolution he would say it was
11:03am
worth it. to leave mount vernon to go to the constitutional convention. he would say it was worth it to become president. all the absentees would say it and any of us should be able to say it. i am a lincoln person. i am a booker t. washington, frederick douglass -- i keep those of round to remind me what our obligations are. yours and mine. >> the first time i heard you you were talking about the declaration of independence which mr. lincoln alludes to write out of the gate in the gettysburg address fourscore and 7, 1863 and 87 is 1776 when you do the math. our fathers begin the imagery and many quotes from the
11:04am
declaration. brought forth a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all end-all men are created equal. that is from the declaration. you have thoughts about the declaration. it is in the rotunda alongside the gettysburg address and the emancipation and the constitution itself. i wanted to invite you as you talked about lincoln to tell us how you think of the declaration and it's part in the american story. >> we have these rights. we are endowed with certain unalienable -- we give up some of those rights by consent. that is critical. for me when i started it wasn't so much about the government. it was about what was the best
11:05am
argument against slavery? as simple as that. when you grow up under segregation. you take the founding document and use it as the point to make to others who think segregation is right. our founding document and we are inherently people. we are not in grain in it. the declaration and our faith in god. we were created equal and didn't have to go to the bible or religious doctrine. they went to the founding documents that we are created equal. that was always -- when you were treated -- people try to end rain. i hear people say it affected your self-esteem.
11:06am
it never affected mine. that no point in my life. because from day one we knew we were equal. my grandfather said so and the declaration of independence said so. may have taken a war and slave and jim crow laws but no matter how contradictory that was, here was this document. it starts and you look at that got me started again to read this great document. to read it and talk about it. i wasn't going to be a judge. who knows how i became a judge? i was only interested in the best of this country. the things that made it worth happening. and low and behold you come to
11:07am
the understanding that the founding document, this great experiment is a wonderful thing and that was in the 1980s. i was worrying more about budgets and getting in all sorts of trouble over age destroyers and -- none of which was of great consequence as far as the structure of the country but spending hour after hour learning about the things you write about and teach so eloquently, for me that central document is great and wants the declaration of independence and to then go to gettysburg and to think about the effect's charge, think about the carnage, lives
11:08am
lost, battles before fredericksburg, wilderness and chancellor and shiloh and manassas, all these battles where people defending a way of life or slavery and all that blood shed, this contradiction and we won. we have our country. i would like to go to gettysburg to say to my clerks do we deserve this? do we deserve this sacrifice for the country that we have and are we living up to it. >> go any place. think of people in the battle of the bulge or think of them at --
11:09am
during any war and just ask yourself let's assume about debating whether you should have had this battle or that. they have done their part and we have done hours and the thing that i was told, i was going to be a priest. that was the only source of bold that i had. you are called to do something. every x seminary looks for the best location. your call is to do your part. to be able to earn the right -- >> you mentioned in your book for first page and the last page, you mention god. the declaration of independence
11:10am
has a prominent -- several from the very beginning nature and nature's god and and out by our creator and the end, the most military language appealing to the supreme judge of the world to the rectitude of our intentions and they are not talking about robert c. j.. thoughts -- you look at the constitution and the references aren't so prominent. jamie randal has talked about -- my students rose to a paper about the word sunday accepted in the constitution but not very prominent. in the preamble and other articles. just this week we heard debates and conversations about got on
11:11am
the coins and whether whether there was sufficient reference to god on 9/11. references to god in our national discourse and public culture. >> we are kidding ourselves that we don't think it is a central part of our formation. you can argue neel is a more atheism now. new first amendment -- congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof. stay out of it and leave people alone when it comes to their religion obviously assumes religion. we knew what the revisions were. the baptist convention. they were not worshiping a pulp or something. they believed in god. i am not going to revise history to pretend i grew up in a
11:12am
religious environment. i was going to be a priest. i believed in god, i would be enormously angry -- i am grateful for my faith and unapologetic about it. >> one interesting sort of -- it is remarkable. started talking a little bit about how we have changed over time. nevada the nineteenth amendment and women becoming part of this effort greater arc of democratic inclusion. >> and prohibition. >> which got -- [talking over each other] >> was repealed. in general most of the amendments -- what you said before. and -- we got rid of it.
11:13am
>> i understand. >> host: on religion it is pretty extraordinary. of the constitution freed every american to be eligible for public office. there is no religious test, and a lot of them had religious tests. >> in new england you had establishment religion. and the country moved on and people respectful of religion and religious people. i grew up when the church was open all the time. nobody engage in sacrilegious conduct. in the inner city. the little guy with the u.s.
11:14am
government surplus and book bag and scared of dogs more than anything else. i really like what i do. i can transpose that or superimpose it for transpose it or superimpose it on the current -- the country is what it is and there are some of us who would not be here. it was nothing in front of me to tell me it was ok to keep trying. there was nothing in front of me that explained all the wrong, listings that happen even in this city. there was nothing that could deal with it and to make you a better person, to force you to be a good person when everything -- been and cynical and react. i know all the smart alex no
11:15am
better than i do but they were not there. they were not in the heat. they did not walk in those steps and i thank god for the environment i was in of people who have strong faith. the house i was in and people strong faith and did we impose it on anyone else? no. in my own daily life i respect other people. i don't abuse them or do things. irrespective them. it all comes from the way i was raised and that includes the strong thing. >> i think we as americans have grown into a remarkably respectful culture. we began by saying the system is open to people -- we won't
11:16am
require a belief in the trinity or any particular -- it strikes me at this moment to look back 225 years later the process, there is was a project where most americans at the founding were mainstream protestant. mainstream protestantism remains a huge part of our culture and that is interesting. none of the justices on the court is mainstream protestant. [talking over each other] >> host: needed john boehner nor harry reid. none of the four presidential candidates -- >> guest: a lot of times following. >> host: only barack obama -- it
11:17am
is an extraordinary openness actually. >> we talked about it a lot. i liked it when i was a kid. we didn't talk about it a lot. we talk a lot about this person or that person and we all pretend we are tolerant. i liked it when people didn't care. i was catholic. you talk about the minority. minority was a minority. i was the black catholic in savannah, georgia. that is -- and insular -- insular minority. so -- nobody bothered. i was the only black kid in my seminary. 1965 the 64 there was a younger -- young man who left. i was there by myself in savannah. nobody bothered me. i hear people say these things
11:18am
about they are tolerant. there really identifying a lot more. i like the idea that when you start you and i are here. neither one of us -- nobody seems to care. no one is pointing it out. we notice it. you look like you are in the and its descent. people say horrible fans. i am not black. just a little doubtful i should say i am black. here we are. no one really is bringing this point up. would you should be more concerned about is look where we are. it seems to be more relevant than what your faith is that even with that these are good people. these are people who i go back to what i said.
11:19am
they are continuing what was started 200 years ago. the debate about the great document. they are good people. i search the next to justi ginsburg. how often do we agree. >> a lot. in most -- [laughter] >> host: many cases that are unanimous -- >> guest: in the unanimous cases. i agree with her in all but unanimous cases. i like that. that is a shrewd move. there is one category of cases we agree. whar they? the unanimous cases. but she is a good person. she is a fabulous person. i love sitting next to her. we are friends. i think that is what you want.
11:20am
you want people who work together and try to get it right but don't change their mind just because they are there. just because it is bad. you want them to think. the same way at the convention and we the people, ratification. it was a time -- you talk about people actually saying what they believe. people actually fighting about it. people actually caring about it. people writing articles about it. federalist papers. people traveling. people having meetings in their churches the you can't do that. having people meeting in town halls all over the country debating. people actually -- this is the fascinating thing. people who actually read the
11:21am
constitution. people claim to love it but do they read it? they read it back then. and if they were not as universally available. no internets. they somehow printed and read that and talked about it. and the people who couldn't read haven't read. and formed opinions. it was a debate about this country, information, in what direction and it continues. it is this same debate. you can talk about the commerce clause and equal protection of due process. it is all the same debate and it is an appropriate debate and hit is one that i would wish would
11:22am
sort of try to reach the same high-level that we saw in philadelphia that we are going to see at other points in the ratification process. sort of defense and arguments. who sits at home and drafts arguments that you see letters? you don't have a staff do these things. these are people who were engaged and also -- these were not scholars. these were not people who appropriated to themselves licenses to interpret or talk about this. these were foreigners. some of them who had formal education and some did not but they cared about this country.
11:23am
i think that i go back to your point. you talk about the written and the unwritten constitution. the unwritten constitution is sort of trying to to bring current events and problems and development and that debate continues on each one of them and that is why you see different points. that is why arguments -- why your scholarship is so important. one thing i like about the tone is it is so positive. it is refreshing. here are some answers. let's talk about it. i tell my clerk when we work we've got to explain. your parents are immigrants. i don't think their doctors or
11:24am
lawyers. is there constitution too and we should explain it and interpret it in a way to make it accessible to them. that is what you are trying to do with your book. to make it accessible. >> one concluding note. we have been talking about the past, 225 years, this park of ever greater inclusion. didn't talk as much as we might about women's suffrage but that is a revolutionary moment of additional in collusion. amendments that prohibition aside generally tend to expand liberty and equality. pretty striking that in general the amendments do that and don't take us back.
11:25am
now here is flawed experiment. one understanding of the on written constitution might be the constitution is still to be written. the unfinished constitution. history isn't over. let amendments imaginable over the next 225 years. >> guest: hope you are expecting to hang around. >> host: thinking about if you spend a lot of time thinking about 225 years ago, 150 years ago, 75 years ago if we turn the camera around and try to think forward 75 years from now or 150 years or 225 years, any thoughts at all? these issues are not going to come of the immediately. thoughts on the democratic project in america or the world
11:26am
going forward. >> i am not that creative. i wonder when people look back as we are looking back now. let's say we had something. will they look at what we have written? that we were trying to score points? i would hope we can say we made or they can say we made a positive contribution as positive as you and i think of those who were at the convention, those who participated in the debate. they added something. when we do opinions i don't like to get into the back and forth.
11:27am
i like at the end of it to say this is what i think we should be looking at or what we should be taking. that doesn't mean everybody should agree with me or change their minds. what you are trying to do is think it through and tell them exactly what you think without personal attacks. just to try to add something. we are obligated, you and me. if we talk about this great book documents we are obligated to improve, obligated to disagree but in a way that is constructive. in a way that adds something. in a way that is worthy of the constitution. we think it is a document up here. we are obligated.
11:28am
you have kids. teach them they talk about things in a certain way and parents in a certain way or your parents -- this is a great document. i don't deny -- i have lived the flaw. i lived the contradiction. i say in spite of that. is to us to do positive. it is you and i we are talking about. i started this month to go back to the job we are called to do. you and i have an obligation. for someone to say he was fair but he was cynical or negative or didn't think it through.
11:29am
i didn't say i agree with you. i could care less. that is not my point. the point is do you think it through and communicate in a way that adds to this development you are talking about? think about -- >> host: justice john harlan. in plessey versus ferguson. >> guest: do we vote for the majority opinion or the descent? 60 years later it was fief dissent. so you write it in a way that he was the lone -- do you think -- as i understand it by my recollection -- [talking over each other] >> guest: kind of interesting. some time as my wife says i get
11:30am
too caught in all little things and read these cases over and over and over. the eloquence of it. think of what he said. we have all our pies and this document, this is what he says. the document knows no catch. he didn't quite say that. it knows no -- and i truly believe we have something. at that time he was alone. ..
11:31am
>> i think he occupied his own seat. you know, i spent time with them, and i'd loo to say a word. people do a lot of talking on behalf of others. i sat with him in a meeting when i first got there, a curtesy that supposed to last 10 minutes, but it lasted two and a half hours, and he regales me with stories, and i said to him i wish that if i had had the courage and the age that i could have traveled with him across the south, but i doubt i would
11:32am
have had the courage that he had to do that. he looked at me very quietly saying i had to do in my time what i had to do. you have to do in your time what you have to do. that was all the guidance. perhaps, when we talk about this great document, it sums up the founder. it sums up those at the convention. they had to do in their time what they had to do, and they did it. we have to do in our time what we we have to do. will we do it? >> so was that -- let me add one additional thought and to then bring the proceedings to a close. this conversation, i think, has been in the spirit you're calling for. our sponsoring institutions, the
11:33am
federalist society and the constitution accountability center, you don't always agree on every thing, but i think they both agree on thed -- the idea of serious conversation centered on this document. since i mentioned amendments, and i will say most of the amendments as a practical matter had to have the support of the parties because it's hard to get two-thirds, two-thirds, three quarters because without parties being on board. the great amendments of the 1960s, for example, the great iconic statutes of the 1960s. civil rights act of 64 #, the votes rights act of 65. the fair housing act of 68. republicans and democrats in this spirit you're calling for, and i have one other thought since we're talking about our
11:34am
institutions. that's the national archives. i think the framers of the constitution who were amending their regime studied what was going on before, studied the state constitutions, see what workedded and which didn't. they put their constitution to a vote, let's put ours to a vote. most government have three branches, let's go with that. an independent executive works well for massachusetts and new york, build on that and so on. abolitionist slavery and the amendment. many of the bill of rights, george mason you mentioned. he gives us virginia's bill of rights, and that's a model for the federal bill of"o rights. abolition of slavery occurred in various states and then at a federal level. we have to study, you know, and making what has gone before us. we have a duty to the future, but i think we discharge it best
11:35am
when we actually are understanding or respectful of the past, and that's part of what the national archives is about, and if i could just on a personal note tell you the story of why i'm here. justice thomas' presence needs no explanation, you're justice thomas. what the heck am i doing here? well, when i was 11 years?[: oli came to the national archives, and i got this document. it's a big, big version of the emancipation and proclamation, and it was an addition of the emancipation proke proclamation. it was the 100th anniversary, 50 years ago, september 1962, and the archives released that special edition for kids like me, and i got my picture of abe
11:36am
lincoln because i'm a lincoln man too. >> you don't throw anything out, do you? [laughter] >> i don't. [laughter] i came -- and that's what made me not cynical. coming at a young age to a place like this, being exposed to mr. lincoln and what he did for the union, being for the constitution, and i think i'm here today honestly because of that, and i would like to give special thanks for the national treasure, the national archives. i want to thank all of you for coming to this extraordinary conversation. i want to encourage those in the -- on the television audience to come to this place, bring your kids, bring your grand kids and your grand nephew. bring the next generation here, and if you can't come here physically, experience the national archives on line. you mentioned the internet.
11:37am
if it's up to us, the living, we can't just think bowel the future without thinking very deeply about the past, and i think this is a place that will help us do that thinking, and so i ask all of you to join me in thanking justice thomas and thanking the archives. >> thank you. [applause]
11:38am
>> doug brinkley whose most, recent book is this "cronkite: one word". if you have to describead cronkite's influence in americao how would you do it in 20 words,
11:39am
or less? most trusted man in america, he wore that well. there was great pressure to be called the most trusted man, but he carried the country through things like the mercury and gemini and apollo missions in the hay day, the voice in thek civil rights movement, the vietnam water, watergate, nixon's resignation, the birth of earth day, the person who brought the camp david peace accord together. seminal broadcast journal. the big three. >> how did he get to be that guy?t, >> he was a good wire service reporter, and the wire service for the united press, you'd have to condense the stories. you cachet put a lot of add adverbs and add adjectives.
11:40am
he learned to write perfect for television with a half hour newr broadcast. the writing has to be tight and to the point. t he didn't throw lose language around. he was precise. dou >> doug, was he political? >> cronkite was a new deal democrat. >> was that known? >> no, it was not. he became a fan of franklinbeca roosevelt, cared for him as a boy growing up in the 1930s, and in the 1950s, some thought cronkite was a republican because his boss was. paley, the founder of cbs workea directly for eisenhower in world war ii, and ike loved walter cronkite. when you have thre 20th an anniversary of d-day, eisenhower took cronkite to the beaches, omaha, utah, and wandered around there. there's a feeling in the 50s he was a republican, but the
11:41am
vietnam war by 1968 showed him to be a liberal.he as i write in the end of theame book, he came out publicly saying i'm a man of the left in front of the liberal congresswoman from texas. >> reporter: -- >> did that hurt snip >> no, because he stepped down by thatt time in 1981. he played mr. center, mr. objective well anymore if you duoto the doctor for surgery. you don't care if the doctor's a democrat or republican.don' he did something -- when he camp out in voiced some dissent on the vietnam war, it was the beginning of him editorializing, and we see people doing that alv the time. that's a slippery slope we're on now, and also you see with con kite the birth of television. h e running for president, everybody bum rushed them. they wanted to meet cop cite,
11:42am
not a senator from wisconsin. >> host: how would you describe him as a private person? >> guest: a lot of fun. he could not stand pompous people. at parties he would trunk a lot, sing old time songs, sometimes take part in a strange kind of strip tease act just to get people to crack up. but that's why -- i interviewed so many different people, from his good friends on he left. likicy buffett, to on the right, all the reaganites liked walter cronkite to know him is to like him. >> host: what is or was your connection to walter cop cronkite? came to a book party for my biography. he thought i was david brinkley's son, which i am not. and i had to correct him. then later we would have lunch with arthur schlessinger, jr. in
11:43am
new york, and i got to know him and he did a blush for the history of the united states. he knew i was doing my book before he passed. i was with him six months before his taught some some dementia was setting in, and he was -- >> host: this book came out five or six months ago. what's the next book for you? >> guest: well, i have been working on what i'm calling the wilderness cycle. conservation history but i like the wilderness more than conservation, but i did the wilderness warrior on theodore roosevelt, and then the quiet world, on saving lack wilderness, and now i'm writing forester in chief, franklin roosevelt, the ccc, and wild america. i'm looking how fdr and
11:44am
gifford-pinchot got two billion trees planted through the youth car in the 1930s. so i'm waiting of the death bowl. everglades. >> we were indicating before this interview, you were telling me you spent seven hours with neil armstrong. >> guest: i did. i grew up in ohio, and i don't have time to get the detail but i go to be do the official history for nasa right after 9/11, and he doesn't like talking, mr. armstrong, so i was able to burn some tapes with him, which i'm very proud of. rosenthal, an editor of news week, tune out about and it i wrote a little piece -- a long piece in "newsweek" about neil a remember strong, and my university rights, we celebrated the 15th anniversary of john f. kennedy challenging america to go to the moon on the campus i teach